Rapper and social justice activist Killer Mike will receive the inaugural Billboard Change Maker Award at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, dick clark productions and NBC announced Monday (Oct. 12).
The award recognizes an artist or group that speaks truth to power through their music and celebrity. Killer Mike, a member of hip-hop duo Run the Jewels, will be honored as a leading champion of community activism, social justice and civil rights.
Hosted by Kelly Clarkson, the 2020 Billboard Music Awards will broadcast live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
“This award highlights and recognizes the attributes of a true social justice warrior in the field of music who has made exemplary strides to lead the community in positive changemaking advocacy,” said Datwon Thomas, MRC’s VP, cultural media and consulting producer for the Billboard Music Awards. “In partnership with a diverse committee of colleagues at MRC and our cultural inclusion committee, BLAC, we selected Killer Mike for his contributions to the current movement and culture and his tangible efforts to make national and grassroots change.”
Throughout his 20-year music career, Mike has been instrumental in the social justice and civil rights movements. He has led nationwide voter registration initiatives within the Black community and created opportunities for Black businesses to thrive by educating civic leaders and community members, particularly youth, on the importance of entrepreneurship and financial responsibility.
Killer Mike has released five studio albums as a solo artist and four as a member of Run the Jewels (which also includes El-P). Counting both solo and duo efforts, he has twice reached the top 10 on the Billboard 200. His first solo album, Monster, reached No. 10 in March 2003. Run the Jewels’ current album, RTJ4, reached No. 10 in June of this year.
The current album’s original release date was June 5, 2020. Due to the ongoing protests against police brutality sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, the duo decided to release it two days early. An accompanying note read: “F*** it, why wait. The world is infested with bull**** so here’s something raw to listen to while you deal with it all. We hope it brings you some joy. Stay safe and hopeful out there and thank you for giving 2 friends the chance to be heard and do what they love. With sincere love and gratitude, Jaime + Mike.”
RTJ4 has a lofty 89 rating at Metacritic.com, the review aggregation site. It is one of only 11 albums released so far in 2020 with such a high rating. It is thought to be a serious Grammy contender in several categories.
Killer Mike won a Grammy in February 2003 as a featured artist on OutKast’s “The Whole World,” which won in the category of best rap performance by a duo or group.
Previously announced 2020 Billboard Music Awards performers include Alicia Keys, Bad Bunny, BTS, Kane Brown, Luke Combs, Doja Cat, En Vogue, Khalid, Swae Lee, Demi Lovato, Sia, Post Malone and Saint Jhn. In addition, Garth Brooks is set to receive the prestigious ICON Award and perform on the show.
Fan-voted categories this year include Billboard Chart Achievement Award, Top Social Artist and Top Collaboration. Voting is now open and available on TikTok.
Billboard Music Awards nominees and winners are based on key fan interactions with music, including album and digital song sales, streaming, radio airplay, touring and social engagement, tracked by Billboard and its data partners, including MRC Data/Nielsen Music. The awards are based on the chart period of March 23, 2019 through March 14, 2020.
The 2020 Billboard Music Awards is produced by dick clark productions, which is owned by MRC Entertainment, the parent company of Billboard. Amy Thurlow, Mark Bracco, Barry Adelman, Linda Gierahn, Kelly Clarkson and Robert Deaton are executive producers.